Connecticut elected officials propose record budget cuts to public colleges and universities

While remaining dedicated to coddling the rich by refusing to require them to pay their fair share in taxes, Governor Malloy and members of the Connecticut General Assembly have offered up state budget plans that that will decimate Connecticut’s public colleges and universities and lead to significantly higher tuition at UConn, CSU and the state’s community colleges.

Governor Malloy has already presided over the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education but now he – and both parties in the legislature – are seeking truly unprecedented cuts in state funding levels for the University of Connecticut, Connecticut State Universities and Connecticut’s Community Colleges.

These cuts will lead to higher costs for Connecticut families and reduced offerings at Connecticut’s colleges and universities.  The proposals will lead to nothing more than students paying more and getting less.

Faced with a $5 billion projected budget shortfall, Malloy and the Democratic and Republican caucuses in the State Senate and State House of Representatives recently offered up revised budget proposals aimed at addressing Connecticut’s growing fiscal crisis.

The new proposed budgets rely heavily on cuts to education and human services.

In February, Governor Malloy proposed a $38 million in budget cuts to the CSU/Community College budget, a cut that would come on top of Malloy’s massive cuts over the last few years.

Then this past week, Malloy and the Republicans both proposed nearly $25 million more in cuts to CSU and the Community Colleges, while the incredibly outrageous proposal from the Democrats would actually cut off as much as $90 million in state aid to the schools.

As previously noted, in Connecticut, the poor pay about 12% of their income in state and local taxes, the Middle Class about 10% and the state’s wealthiest citizen’s only pay about 5.5% of their income in state and local taxes.

However, rather than require wealthy residents to pay their fair share in taxes, Democrats and Republicans are seeking to dump the state’s budget problems on those least able to pay more.

The cuts to public colleges and universities will certainly lead to massive increases in tuition – which is nothing short of a tax increase on those who are already paying more than their fair share.

As the CT Mirror reported on the Democratic Plan;

Public colleges and universities also face very deep cuts under the Democratic plan.

The University of Connecticut, which already faced a deep cut under the budget Malloy proposed back in February, would lose another $35 million over the next two fiscal years combined under the Democratic legislators’ proposal.

And the Board of Regents of Higher Education, which oversees the state universities and community colleges, would lose another $100 million over the biennium.

The Governor and legislature have no begun closed door negotiations over the budget plan and there appears to be no one in the room who is willing to stand up and speak out on behalf of adequate funding for Connecticut’s colleges and universities.

UConn student paper speaks out for UConn’s Natural History Museum

As previously reported here at Wait, What?, The administration at the University of Connecticut is on a mission to destroy Connecticut’s Museum of Natural History.  For coverage read;

UConn’s move to close Connecticut Natural History Museum is insulting, immoral and illegal

and

Arrogance and Hubris at the University of Connecticut

The controversy has led the Daily Campus, UConn’s student newspaper to publish an editorial demanding UConn administrators back off their effort to undermine the museum.  In, Editorial: UConn must give the museum a building, the paper writes;

The University of Connecticut’s relocation of the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History violates the law that established it, Senate Bill 341 (Public Act 85-563). This act created the museum so that it would prepare exhibits and programs to educate visitors about Connecticut’s natural history. The law does not designate a specific building, but it establishes that its board of directors is responsible for planning and establishing the museum. The co-chair of this board, Natalie Munro, revealed that it was not the board of directors who made the decision, but UConn itself. The university’s decision to move the museum from its building on Hillside Road to part of the Office of Public Engagement violated the law by infringing upon the power of the board of directors and removing the museum’s physical location. It also violated those who have donated money for the betterment of the museum as it was utilized in the expansion of its building.

The museum now exists as an institution without a physical location since its previous location was recently transformed into the CLAS Academic Services Center. This is problematic because the physical location of the museum is necessary to its established goals of creating both exhibits and programs for the public. University spokesman Tom Breen defended the university’s actions by stating that the museum fits well within the Office of Public Engagement because much of its work involves community outreach and education. Yet, an exam is more than the programs it offers. It needs a building to hold its exhibits and offer its programs.

The Connecticut State Museum of Natural History was located in the building on Hillside Road for 16 years. During its time there, the building underwent several renovations in order to serve its role as a museum. The museum’s supporters donated about half of the funds for the renovations, about $500,000 which included lighting, displays and classrooms for the building. The CLAS Academic Services Center has no use for these special renovations, as it was completed less than a decade ago. Even more heinous is the fact that these renovations no longer serve the museum, which is unfair to those who donated their money specifically for that purpose.

The university has an obligation to right the wrong it made in its decision to relocate the museum. Not only did it break the law that established the museum, but it also disrespected those who had provided monetary support. The university owes these supporters and the state either its return to its Hillside road location or a new site that is equipped with the same functions provided in the Hillside Road location’s recent renovations.

UConn’s move to close Connecticut Natural History Museum is insulting, immoral and illegal

Following the news that the University of Connecticut had inappropriately closed its Museum of Natural History, the Wait, What? post read, Arrogance and Hubris at the University of Connecticut

Now, in a story entitled Former legislator questions legality of museum closure, Corey Sipe of the Willimantic Chronicle writes;

STORRS – Questions remain whether the closure of the exhibits at the Connecticut Museum of Natural History at the University of Connecticut was legal.

A former legislator who helped create the statute to establish the museum in the first place claims the closure was illegal, while university officials contend they are still following the law.

Jonathan Pelto, the former state representative for the 54th District from 1985 to 1993, said he helped co-sponsor Senate Bill 341, which later became Public Act 85563, in 1985.

{…]

He was disappointed to hear that the university decided to suddenly close the exhibit space over the summer.

He believes it’s a step backward, as the closure would place components of the collection in different places around campus, which is exactly the situation the museum was in before the law was created.

Pelto said he believes university officials quietly closed the exhibit space knowing it was not following the law.

However, UConn deputy spokesman and manager for special projects, Tom Breen, claimed that even with the museum, most of the collection was not displayed.

“The whole reason to create the museum (by state statute) is to have a physical presence to bring all the collections together,” Pelto said, adding the university was allocated money under the UConn 2000 initiative for the museum allowing it to create a space large enough to display all collections.

However, he said the university decided to reallocate some of the earmarked money for other purposes.

“I think they have two options – either have the museum or have ( the act) repealed, but I prefer them to have a museum since millions of dollars were spent on it,” he said.

The act states in part that UConn ” prepare public exhibits at the museum and educational exhibits and programs that may be used by colleges, universities, schools, libraries, institutes.”

However, Breen disagrees with Pelto’s assessment, stating in a recent e-mail that “the language of the law requires only that the museum be within the University of Connecticut.”

Breen wrote there are no plans to cut budget or staff for the museum despite its lack of a designated exhibit space, adding that the museum “has been allocated resources to help meet its responsibilities and fulfill its mission, and the university remains committed to that.”

He added that when the law was passed, the museum moved several times to different on-campus locations, including the Wilbur Cross Building and, eventually, its last location, the old apple sales building at 2019 Hillside Road, next to the university bookstore.

The museum was moved out in July to make space for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Academic Services Center, which was previously located at 423 Whitney Road.

The center was the last of the university offices to be moved out of Faculty Row, a collection of nine historic Colonialrevival- style houses on Whitney and Gilbert Roads. The houses were built between 1912 and 1918 and will be demolished by the university to make way for a new commons area with a park-like green space.

Breen said by phone that the university is still considering opportunities for displaying parts of its museum collection, including creating temporary exhibits at satellite campuses and possibly off-campus areas.

In fact, museum officials are working on a design of a new exhibit for the BioPhysics building lobby and are setting up the Carl and Marian Rettenmeyer Army Ant Guest Collection, as part of Ant-U, a way to showcase disciplines regarding ants.

The Connecticut Museum of Natural History was formerly part of UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences but in August was recategorized as UConn’s Office of Public Engagement, which Breen believes is a better fit as the university wants to use the museum as an outreach tool to the greater community.

As a result, staff relocated to 368 Fairfield Way, the same place where public engagement staff are located.

At that time, museum director Leanne Kennedy Harty, indicated she was not happy about the reclassification as it does fit in with the work she is doing for the museum.

Harty could not be reached for additional comment at press time.

She is one of the museum’s three full-time staff members who also include exhibit and communication design specialist Collin Harty and program and public information coordinator David C. Colberg.

For more about UConn’s move to destroy Connecticut’s Museum of Natural History read, Arrogance and Hubris at the University of Connecticut

Arrogance and Hubris at the University of Connecticut

The great actor and musician Theodore Bikel once said;

All too often arrogance accompanies strength, and we must never assume that justice is on the side of the strong. The use of power must always be accompanied by moral choice.

As if to prove the point, in recent years, the administration of the University of Connecticut saw fit to destroy the historic and respected non-profit UConn Co-op bookstore…because it wasn’t profitable enough.

It also destroyed the university’s age-old alumni association…because it was deemed too independent and perceived not to be loyal enough when it came to meeting the administration’s demands.

And now, despite more than 30 years of work and a state law anointing UConn’s Museum of Natural History as Connecticut’s official State Museum of Natural History, the UConn administration has unilaterally closed the important facility…because even the law isn’t enough to limit UConn’s hubris.

UConn’s student newspaper, the Daily Campus, reports on the latest development in an article entitled, Former Connecticut lawmaker: UConn broke law in museum relocation.  Student reporter, Marlese Lessing explains;

The University of Connecticut has violated the law in its recent relocation of the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, said Jonathan Pelto, who co-sponsored the Senate Bill establishing the museum in 1985.

The museum, which was relocated from its former home on Hillside Road earlier in August, was established by Senate Bill 341 (Public Act 85-563) in 1985, as an act by the Connecticut State Legislature.

“What the University has done violates the letter and the spirit of (the law) we originally intended,” Pelto said. “It’s a problem that can’t be explained away by what the university has (previously) said.”

The museum was originally intended to prepare exhibits and education programs about the natural history of Connecticut. A board of directors was to be established and be in charge of the museum’s planning.

According to co-chair of the museum’s current board, Natalie Munro, the board of directors did not make the decision to move the museum – the UConn administration did.

“It wasn’t up to us,” Munro said. “We suggested a few alternatives to try to keep the building, but ultimately UConn made the decision.”

The museum’s relocation violated the law, since the decision to move it was not up to the board of directors, Pelto said, and because the museum no longer exists in a physical location.

University spokesman Tom Breen said the university owns the building on Hillside, and that buildings and resources are allocated by the university under its authority, based on its needs as a whole.

“The language of the law requires only that the museum be ‘within The University of Connecticut,’” Breen said. “At the time the law was passed, the museum wasn’t located in the old Apple Sales Building on Hillside Road, and it moved more than once before arriving in Hillside Road. Like other programs contained within the university, the State Museum of Natural History has been allocated resources to help meet its responsibilities and fulfill its mission, and the university remains committed to that.”

Though the museum no longer has a physical location, it still exists as an institution, running programs and exhibits throughout the university, according to UConn Today. The museum’s relocation involved moving it to the Office of Public Engagement where the museum will focus more on public relations, Breen said.

“With so much of the museum’s work involving public education and community outreach, it made sense to house it in the relatively new Office of Public Engagement,” Breen said. “The Office of the Provost, the Office of Public Engagement and the museum’s staff were all involved in the process of making the transition, with the goal of positioning the museum to successfully carry out its mission.”

Running programs simply isn’t enough to constitute a museum, Pelto said. It needs to have a physical location to fulfill its purpose stated in the bill, or there is no museum.

“Having programs isn’t sufficient to having a museum. The university is violating the law and either needs to stop that or be held accountable,” Pelto said.

The building on Hillside was home to the museum for 16 years. The museum was originally housed in several units by Horsebarn Hill before its relocation to the building on Hillside in 2000, according to its current director Leanne Kennedy Harty.

The building had potential, but required several renovations before it could be a displayable museum, including modifications to the second floor to make it more exhibit-friendly, Harty said.

Although the UConn 2000 (Now 21st Century UConn) plan included a $5M line item for the museum’s renovations in the early 2000s, Harty said, budget cuts left the museum without the promised expansions.

“(When) the project got cut, we were left in the building without the commitment through the capital project to expand,” Harty said. “So we just tried raise the money ourselves.”

About $500,000 in donated funds from museum supporters was used to renovate the second floor, Harty said. Lighting, displays, classrooms and other modifications were completed in 2007. The donations made up about half of the renovation budget, Harty said, with UConn paying for the other half.

Now that the museum has been moved, the building space is inhabited by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences administrative offices. The renovations paid for by the donor money can no longer be used by the museum.

“It’s hard,” Harty said. “I feel like we need to do right by the people who gave money… A lot of time and energy went into planning the exhibits.”

The museum’s relocation was a logistical decision, Breen said, due to the scheduled demolition of Faculty Row, which formerly housed several administrative offices.

“The decision to relocate the offices of the Museum of Natural History came out of the process by which the museum became part of our Office of Public Engagement,” Breen said. “With building space at a premium on campus, the university is always looking for the best ways to use our resources. The move…puts the CLAS Academic Services Center in a building close to the heart of campus.”

The loss of the building, however, meant an end to many potential plans and exhibits, Munro said.

“We were initially disappointed to lose the building, because we spent many years fighting to get a building, and working to raise money to get a building,” Munro said. “Ultimately we hoped to expand so we could better serve the needs of the museum. It took away our ability to have a real museum that had the collections and the public engagement space all in one location.”

There are still buildings around Horsebarn Hill, Harty said, where the museum keeps several exhibits and collections. However, the relocation from the Hillside Road building represented a loss to a public exhibition space.

Although UConn has the authority to the buildings, Pelto said, the university also has a responsibility to the museum to give it a permanent, physical building.

“They have an obligation to find an alternate location,” Pelto said. “They can’t not have a museum.”

The University of Connecticut’s arrogance and hubris has become all too commonplace.

Perhaps such action should be expected from a state university that pays its president upwards toward $1 million dollars a year.

The stunning reality is that the University of Connecticut has become an institution where students and families are required to pay more and get less.

You can read and comment on the original Daily Campus article at: http://dailycampus.com/stories/2016/11/16/former-connecticut-lawmaker-uconn-broke-law-in-museum-relocation

UConn 2000 Program – UConn broke the law and was caught.  Now they are doing it again

From today’s CT Mirror

UConn first came under fire over its capital program in 2005 amid reports that new dormitories that hadn’t been subjected to fire and other safety code inspections had been opened and were housing roughly 5,000 students.

An investigatory panel appointed by Rell and chaired by former Rep. Jonathan Pelto, D-Mansfield, concluded UConn had improperly shifted tens of millions of dollars from one project to another. That investigation also showed that funds earmarked for deferred maintenance were used for expansions and new construction.

Rell and the legislature responded with several reforms in 2006, including creation of the Construction Management Oversight Committee. It was was comprised of seven members — four appointed jointly by the governor and legislative leaders and three named by the UConn Board of Trustees. UConn also appoints the chairman of the oversight panel.

“The Governor’s Commission on UConn Review and Accountability recommended a strict oversight process for UConn 2000 building funds,” Pelto said Monday. “The legislature put those recommendations into law. … It is beyond shocking that they have returned to their old ways and have been ducking the mandated oversight process.”

As the CT Mirror reports in, State officials let UConn 2000 oversight panel languish for years,

Deprived of overdue appointments, the panel tasked with overseeing the University of Connecticut’s capital building program has not met since December 2014, according to records obtained by The Mirror.

Governors and legislative leaders have not made appointments to the UConn 2000 Construction Management Oversight Committee since 2009, despite repeated warnings from the university that some members’ terms had expired.

This disclosure comes two weeks after state auditors reported UConn improperly redirected nearly $50 million in funds earmarked for deferred maintenance, instead spending it to expand and upgrade various facilities. The redirection of deferred maintenance funds was one of the chief allegations raised 11 years ago that led legislators and then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell to establish the oversight committee in law.

And while Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office was uncertain Monday about the need for new appointees — and questioned the recent conclusions of state Auditors John C. Geragosian and Robert M. Ward — several legislative leaders took a different stand, recommending that the committee be reactivated and saying that UConn needs greater oversight now.

You can read the entire disturbing story at: http://ctmirror.org/2016/09/27/state-officials-let-uconn-2000-oversight-panel-languish-for-years/

Let Them Eat Cake’ Moment Shows Need for Transparency at UConn (Sarah Darer Littman)

The truth is that UConn needs a lot more than transparency – its needs a new President, new top administrators, a new Board of Trustees and a new Governor.

In a CT Newsjunkie column last week, education advocate Sarah Darer Littman highlighted the UConn management’s fiscally irresponsible, tone-deaf and elitist leadership style, an approach in which the President receives raises and bonuses and hands out large pay raises to her top staff, all while the state’s “flagship” university faces one record budget cut after another.

Perhaps more than any other area of state government, Governor Dannel Malloy’s disdain for doing the right thing has been on full display at Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education.

Claiming to be concerned about Connecticut’s economy, Malloy’s state budget policies have undercut college and career educational opportunities by dramatically reducing state support, which in turn, has led to much higher tuition and fees, all while reducing the level of programing at UConn and the state’s other colleges and universities.

Yet at the very same time, with Malloy serving as the statutory President of the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, the Board and UConn President have increased the already outrageously high salaries of top administrators at the University.

It is, as Sarah Darer Littman wrote, a “let them eat cake” moment.

As Littman explains in her Let Them Eat Cake’ Moment Shows Need for Transparency at UConn commentary piece,

Connecticut’s political parties might be increasingly polarized, but there’s one issue upon which they finally reached unanimous agreement: UConn President Susan Herbst has had a “let them eat cake” moment and her Board of Trustees is utterly tone deaf.

Jump into the DeLorean, fire up the Flux Capacitor and set the date for February 24, 2015, when President Herbst testified about how cuts to the university’s block grant would have dire impacts on the quality of education at the university:

 “A reduction to the appropriation in that amount would without question have a devastating impact on every aspect of university operations, faculty teaching and research, and student success . . . The greatest consequences of this would be the effect it would have on our students, our academic programs, and the role UConn must play in the state’s future, economic and otherwise. It would be a giant step backward. To address the gap this would create, our cost savings and revenue options will include: strategic workforce reductions and, to the extent permitted by collective bargaining obligations, unpaid furlough days for all employees including management and unionized workers, reductions to student financial aid, closing academic departments and programs including in Storrs and the regional campuses and ending certain degree programs.”

As of February, 30 faculty members had been laid off, according to Michael Bailey, Executive Director of the UConn chapter of AAUP (American Association of University Professors). It’s happening across the country — tenured professor positions are being filled by less expensive adjuncts for whom the university isn’t required to pay benefits.

“Approximately 50 percent of the faculty is off the tenure track with adjuncts accounting for 25 percent of those. There has been about a 10 percent increase in adjunct faculty use in the Fall semesters since 2010,” according to Bailey.

Yet despite this, at a time of massive state budget deficits and statewide layoffs, President Herbst and the Board of Trustees have chosen — because let’s be clear, it’s a choice — to go forward with massive pay increases to a few non-union administrators on the basis that “everyone else is doing it.” One can’t help but think of that oft-heard parental reprimand, “If all your friends were jumping off a cliff, would you do that, too?”

“The university does not run itself,” President Herbst reminded Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney and state Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, Senate Chair of the Higher Education Committee, in a letter responding to their questions. “We strongly believe in hiring high quality employees in order to fulfill UConn’s potential and ensure that we are as good as we can be as an institution. There are undeniably costs to that including the pay for the four people that prompted your letter, out of a workforce of more than 9,000.”

“I believe a contract is a contract and people should abide by contracts,” Board of Trustees chair Larry McHugh told the Hartford Courant.

What’s interesting — and revealing — is Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s position. He was stridently adamant that labor unions reduce their contractual benefits in light of the new fiscal situation

Those who care about the state’s fiscal survival, let alone the future of the University of Connecticut, would do well to read Littman’s piece which can be found at:

http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_herbsts_let_the_eat_cake_moment_shows_need_for_transparency_at_uconn/

The logical conclusion after reading it is that Connecticut AND UConn are in need of new leadership….

For more on UConn and its problems, read;

Malloy’s blindness and lack of leadership leads to chaos at UConn

Was UConn President channeling Donald Trump in interview with student reporter?  (Part I)

ALERT:  Malloy’s Budget Cuts lead to another 23% Tuition Increase at UConn plus 7%

Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU

UConn hires Gov. Chris Christie connected law firm to negotiate contract with faculty union

Malloy’s blindness and lack of leadership leads to chaos at UConn

Although Governor Dannel Malloy has consistently ducked his responsibility as the statutory President of the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, the buck actually does stop on his desk…. Even while he pretends it doesn’t

Back in January 27, 2016, the UConn’s Board of Trustees voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), the non-teaching professional staff at UConn.

No member of the UConn Board of Trustees voted against the contract.  All voted yes, except for one of the two alumni representatives, who abstained.

Then, as the concerns were raised about the contract by the Connecticut General Assembly, Governor Dannel Malloy suddenly become critical of the agreement – despite the fact that, by law, Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, Malloy appoints the majority of the members of the Board and Malloy’s own personal representative on the Board had missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings, including the Trustee meeting in January when the contract was approved.

Malloy’s personal representative has missed every meeting since then, having now missed 15 of the last 18 UConn Trustee meetings.

Malloy pretended like it all occurred on someone else’s watch and demanded the contract be withdrawn or defeated.

Now, six months later, the CT Mirror is reporting a new and even more shocking controversy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 – A few top UConn officials get pay increases despite tough times (CT Mirror)

In a fiscally challenging year in which few non-union managers received pay increases – at UConn or elsewhere in state government – President Susan Herbst is sticking by promises she made in 2013 and 2014 to give multiyear increases to four senior staff.

In December 2014 – one month after the governor cut state funding for UConn by $3.7 million and warned more cuts would come before the fiscal year ended – Herbst gave three of her most senior staff members hefty pay increases over two or three fiscal years.

Those increases went to the university’s general counsel, chief architect and Herbst’s deputy chief of staff. In 2013 she awarded her chief of staff increases and bonuses over the next three fiscal years.

Thursday, June 23, 2016 –  Legislative leaders call UConn ‘tone deaf’ over raises for top staff (CT Mirror)

Legislative leaders Thursday blasted hefty pay increases University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst awarded to four senior staff members as the state and public university grapple with big budget cuts.

“UConn’s administration continues to be tone deaf to the economic realities facing our state. Handing out exorbitant raises to their highest-paid staffers while at the same time increasing tuition on hard-working families is the height of arrogance,” House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said in a statement sent to reporters Thursday afternoon. “As state employee layoffs approach the 1,000 mark, and virtually every state agency is dealing with severe budget cuts, the leadership in Storrs has shown once again they just don’t get it.”

Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney, D-New Haven, in a statement shortly afterward, called on UConn to rescind the raises.

“Really?! You’ve got to be kidding me. One might have thought that the examples of the disastrous mistakes of Chancellor Gray and President Hogan would have left a more lasting impact on decisions regarding raises for administrators in higher education. At a time when painful reductions are being imposed throughout state government, UConn should not see itself as an isolated and privileged exception. I urge President Herbst to reconsider and rescind these untimely raises,” said Looney.

The Connecticut Mirror reported Wednesday that Herbst was sticking to promises she made in 2013 and 2014 to award multiple-year, double-digit percentage pay increases to the university’s general counsel, chief architect and Herbst’s chief of staff and deputy chief of staff.

All received pay increases in the 2015-16 fiscal year even though few other non-union managers did – at UConn or elsewhere in state government.

The school’s top lawyer received a $55,000 increase over two fiscal years, her chief of staff received a $50,000 increase over three fiscal years and her chief architect received a $45,000 increase over two fiscal years. The general counsel and chief of staff also received bonuses of $25,000 to $30,000 each year.

Bonuses and pay raises for a select few elites while state employees are being laid off, tuition is going up and programs are being cut.

The reverse Robin Hood Effect continues to move forward at full steam.

Now watch for Malloy to wake from his stupor and demand something… anything in order to look good in the face of this disturbing development.

But face it, the one thing that won’t happen is for Malloy to take responsibility for his utter lack of leadership on the Connecticut budget or his failure to do what is right for UConn’s students and the institution’s future.

Was UConn President channeling Donald Trump in interview with student reporter?  (Part I)

At the end of last month, UConn Daily Campus reporter Kyle Constable sat down with UConn President Susan Herbst for an interview.  Among the topics covered was the controversy surrounding the fate of the UConn Co-op, the institution that has been serving students, faculty and the greater UConn community for the past 41 years.

While President Herbst’s answers to the student reporter’s questions were telling, the session was notable, not so much for what UConn’s President said, but how she conducted herself when dealing with a member of the media.

Upon reading the recorded transcript of the interview, one possible conclusion is that when no one was looking, Donald Trump snuck into the President’s office and possessed Herbst’s mind.  Alternatively, Herbst has been studying Trump’s meteoric rise and decided to take a page out of The Donald’s abusive and insulting approach to reporters and the media.

In any case, the public servant who collected a salary and benefits in excess of $768,558 during the last fiscal year – a $50,000 raise from the year before – managed to turn a routine “end-of-the-year” interview into a situation that should be cause for concern for UConn’s students, faculty and alumni, as well as, the state’s taxpayers and policymakers.

As background, the corporatization of the University of Connecticut took another strong step forward last month with UConn’s announcement that Barnes & Noble had been selected to replace the historic UConn Co-op bookstores.  The UConn Co-op is closing and the national bookstore chain will step in with a promise to improve services and upgrade facilities.

Prices may (or may not) go up, depending on who is assessing the situation, but one of the benefits – according to reports produced by the University of Connecticut – is that UConn will receive “millions of dollars” in revenues from the sale of books and other items sold at the new Barnes & Noble stores.

The move to turn UConn’s non-profit bookstore over to a for-profit company has generated significant controversy.  See:  UConn Co-op Bookstore Could Be Replaced By National Corporation (Hartford Courant 12/8/15), UConn Co-op to be replaced by national corporation (Daily Campus 3/11/16), Barnes & Noble to Lead UConn’s Bookstore Operation (UConn Today 4/27/16)

However, as noted, the news of the moment is not about the bookstore but about the UConn President’s demeanor when sitting down with a reporter who was asking legitimate and important policy questions.

In a case like this, it is best to simply let the content speak for itself.

The Daily Campus headline read – One-on-one: Herbst talks UConn’s path forward in face of uncertainty

Then leaping to the subsection entitled: The Co-op, Barnes & Noble

Constable [The UConn Daily Campus reporter]: The Co-op has been an institution at the university for a very, very long time. There were questions about its ability fiscally sustainable in the long term for some time. Looking at the Storrs Center bookstore location – folks over at the Co-op would say they were forced into it despite the fact that they knew it would put them in a position to make the fiscally unsustainable. Did the university make a decision that ultimately resulted in the Co-op not being able to remain its bookstore?

President Herbst: No, and we have communicated a lot on this subject, yeah, we’re done. (Looking at deputy chief of staff Michael Kirk) You have anything to add?

President Herbst’s Deputy chief of Staff Kirk: About the Co-op?

President Herbst: Yeah.

Kirk: No, I mean, it’s important to keep in mind this change wasn’t just about whether or not the Co-op was profitable. Whether it’s profitable or not, the concern on their part was they didn’t they could make it for the long term. They didn’t have a way out, other than a university bailout. At the same time, there was mounting complaints from students, and faculty and fans and others saying this is not the bookstore that we want, not the bookstore we need. So those things combined led the university to say, “We should look at what our alternatives are.” It’s wasn’t just, “Oh, the Co-op’s not profitable, therefore—” It was, “We’re not getting the kind of service out of this that we need as big university in the 21st century.”

Constable: So talk a little bit about what Barnes & Noble brings to the table for the future of the university.

President Herbst: Yeah, we had— have you read all our material about this?

Constable: Of course.

President Herbst: Yeah, so, have you been to Barnes & Noble recently? Like the Yale Co-op?

Constable: Yes, earlier this week.

President Herbst: That’s what you’re going to get, getting great programming. We’ll have guarantees on how many community programs and authors, but we’ll have our own events there, too. You will have a guarantee about textbook prices and a matching program, which we don’t have right now. There will be more and diverse gear. I mean, I think you see the difference between the Yale bookstore and what we’ve had. So, there it was, right in front of you.

So there you are – it is right in front of you!

Or as Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Edition put it –“JANE, YOU IGNORANT SLUT.”

Yale bookstore good

UConn Co-op bad

Yale bookstore is for winners

UConn Co-op is for losers

 Barnes & Nobile is the kind of store UConn needs to be, “a big university in the 21st century.”

And PS, anyone who doesn’t get it is just stupid

Or as Trump put it,

 “We’re not going to lose. We’re going to start winning again and we’re going to win big-ly.” – Donald Trump 5/3/16

 

To fully appreciate President Herbst’s entire approach, check out the full Daily Campus article at: http://dailycampus.com/stories/2016/5/6/one-on-one-herbst-talks-uconns-path-forward-in-face-of-uncertainty

CT Dem Governor urges Dem Legislature to reject union contract his appointees negotiated and approved

Governor Dannel Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees and appoints and controls a majority of the votes on the Board.  On January 27, 2016, UConn’s Trustees voted 15 – 0 to adopt a new contract with the University of Connecticut’s non-teaching professional staff.  Malloy’s personal representative to the Board of Trustees skipped the meeting.  In fact, they haven’t shown up for 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings.

But Malloy’s neglect to perform his gubernatorial duties didn’t stop him from issuing a press release condemning the new contract and instructing the Democratic controlled General Assembly to reject the contract.

These days, Donald Trump is the world’s leader when it comes to a detachment from facts and reality, but by his action today, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, who also serves as the Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, rocketed into his own parallel universe by calling on the legislature to reject a contract his own political appointees approved.

As noted, according to Connecticut State Law, Malloy is President of the UConn Board of Trustees, he appoints and controls a majority of the members of the Board, yet his personal representative on the UConn Board has missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings including the one in January where the Board of Trustees voted to approve the contract 15-0 (with on abstention).

Malloy’s latest neo-liberal, anti-state employee maneuver is laid out in a CT Newsjunkie article entitled, “Malloy Urges Legislature To Reject UConn Labor Contract.”  The CT Newsjunkie reports;

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy urged the General Assembly to reject a labor contract for 1,900 non-teaching staff at the University of Connecticut.

The legislature has until March 9 to vote on the contract before it automatically goes into effect.

Malloy, who was still on vacation in Puerto Rico Wednesday, sent out a statement repeating remarks he made last week about the state’s fiscal situation. Except, this time he took it a step further and urged rejection of the five year contract, which includes a wage hike and an increase in hours. Malloy, who hesitated last week to offer a firm opinion on the issue, said the contract negotiated last year between the University of the Union does not reflect “our new economic reality.”

The CT Mirror, in Malloy urges rejecting UConn labor pact, explains

After nudging legislators to reject a labor deal granting raises at the University of Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy gave them a hard push Wednesday, publicly urging rejection of a contract the university negotiated with its Professional Employees Union.

“We must value and support those that serve the public,” Malloy wrote in a statement. “This contract was negotiated in good faith, and I appreciate the work of UConn and UCPEA. At the same time, agreements negotiated between labor and management must reflect our new economic reality. This contract, which was negotiated last year, does not.”

The leaders of the Senate Democratic majority quickly agreed with the governor, an indication the Senate is prepared to formally reject the contract, which covers nearly 1,900 non-teaching professionals at UConn.

Malloy’s failure to tell legislators, the media and Connecticut voters the truth about his utter failure to influence the process and raise concerns prior to the labor contract’s adoption by his appointees on the UConn Board of Trustees is a testament to his ability to say anything, even when it ignores reality.

The truth is that Malloy had the chance to fulfill his duties as Governor of Connecticut and a “leader” of the Democratic Party, he failed to act.

And now, in a gratuitous pandering move to appear “fiscally” attentive, he throws Connecticut’s state employees under the bus … again!

As explained in yesterday’s Wait, What? post Hello Governor, a bit of truth about UConn’s “controversial” state employee contract is in order…,

On January 27, 2016, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), the non-teaching professional staff at UConn.

No member of the UConn Board of Trustees voted against the contract.  All voted yes, but one of the two alumni representatives, who abstained.

Over the past week, ratification of the contract by the Connecticut General Assembly has become controversial and Governor Dannel Malloy has suddenly become critical of the agreement despite the fact that, by law, Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, Malloy appoints the majority of the members of the Board and Malloy’s own personal representative on the Board has missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings, including the Trustee meeting in January when the contract was approved.

As the debate grows, a headline in the Hartford Courant reads, “GOP Leaders Call for Vote Soon on Controversial UConn Contract.”  The Courant reports;

Len Fasano and House Republican leader Themis Klarides are calling for the full legislature to vote on a controversial contract for nearly 2,000 non-teaching employees at the University of Connecticut.

The contract will automatically go into effect if the legislature takes no action by March 9. But Fasano, other Republicans, and some Democrats say that a vote is needed on the multi-million-dollar contract to set the tone for future union awards. The contract calls for a 3 percent raise in the first year and then 4.5 percent increases for four consecutive years – including an increase in the workweek from 35 hours to 40 hours.

Last week, the CT Mirror article entitled,  Malloy: UConn pay raises don’t reflect new economic reality, explained that Governor Dannel Malloy was critical of the new state employee contract with non-teaching professional staff at the University of Connecticut claiming that it was out of step with current economic conditions.

Speaking at press conference, Malloy said;

“That contract does not fully represent the new economic reality, and I have some concerns about it, but the legislature is in charge on this one.  I think there is an economic reality that people are having a hard time adjusting to.”

[…]

The pending contract for the 1,839 members of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association provides for annual raises ranging from 3 to 4.5 percent over the next five years.

[…]

“I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it. I think I am going pretty far by saying that if it’s approved, if it becomes the contract, it will be a contract made in this year that will make all other contracts much more difficult to enter into, or to negotiate. It has implications… It’s going to make the legislature’s job a lot harder if they intend to balance the budget.”

Wait, What? 

Malloy said, “The legislature is in charge on this one.” 

And added, “I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it.”

Is Governor Malloy that naïve or does he really think we are that stupid?

As noted, according to Connecticut State Law, the governor serves as the President of the UConn Board of Trustees.

Malloy appointed 12 of the 21 regular members of the UConn Board AND his Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Education and Commissioner of Economic and Community Development are all members of the UConn Board due to the positions they hold in the Malloy administration.

Malloy also appoints a personal representative to the board to attend in his absence.

In the parlance of politics, the governor controls the votes.

The truth is that all of Governor Malloy’s appointees to the UConn Board voted in favor of the proposed state employee contract including Board Chairman Larry McHugh, former Speaker of the House Tom Ritter and West Hartford Deputy Mayor Shari Cantor.

To even suggest that he had no role in the decision to approve the contract can only mean that he intentionally overlooked the important role he plays on the UConn Board of Trustees or he has decided to lie to the voters of Connecticut.

Meanwhile, the debate continues about whether the State Senate and State House of Representatives will hold a vote on the contract.  According to the latest Courant story,

The House Democrats talked about the UConn contract during their closed-door caucus last week at the Jackson Laboratory in Farmington, but no final decisions have been announced on whether there will be a vote by the full legislature.

[…]

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey of Hamden, who will play a key role in whether there is a formal vote, is concerned about the price of the contract for the UConn Professional Employees Association, known as UCPEA.

“Everyone understands the overall budget challenges we face, and I heard from legislators, both on the committee and not, who expressed understandable concerns, which I share, over the price tag of this contract,” Sharkey said.  “Through no fault of UCPEA, it is apparent that UConn negotiated this without consideration of the economic reality of the state, and their CFO couldn’t say how they are going to pay for it. The truth is it has to either come from taxpayers, more tuition hikes, or layoffs, and that concerns me greatly.”

A longtime political insider said the UConn contract is probably the most important union vote, politically, at the Capitol in the past 10 years.

Republicans say the legislature’s budget-writing committee missed a chance last week to set the fiscal tone by failing to block the contract for professional employees. House members on the committee voted in favor of the contract, which some legislators described as unaffordable and others said should be approved because it was bargained in good faith and approved by the university.

While the House members approved the contract, the Senate members battled to a 6-6 tie as they debated over whether the full legislature should approve the contract.

Sen. Beth Bye, a West Hartford Democrat who co-chairs the committee, voted in favor of the deal because she said that turning it down could eventually cost the state even more money.

[…]

Sen. John Kissel, a longtime lawmaker from Enfield who voted against the contract, said in an interview that the contract could eventually boomerrang on the employees.

“They’re setting themselves up for layoffs,” Kissel told Capitol Watch.  “I think it sets a bad standard because we have 15 others coming up. The other unions would look to that and say there’s precedent.”

Setting aside the arguments for and against this particular contract, the most amazing news of all is Malloy’s attempt to revise the reality surrounding his role in the contract and the fact that legislators are apparently going to allow him to get away with the charade.

Hello Governor, a bit of truth about UConn’s “controversial” state employee contract is in order…

On January 27, 2016, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), the non-teaching professional staff at UConn.

No member of the UConn Board of Trustees voted against the contract.  All voted yes, but one of the two alumni representatives, who abstained.

Over the past week, ratification of the contract by the Connecticut General Assembly has become controversial and Governor Dannel Malloy has suddenly become critical of the agreement despite the fact that, by law, Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, Malloy appoints the majority of the members of the Board and Malloy own personal representative on the Board has missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings, including the Trustee meeting in January when the contract was approved.

As the debate groups, a headline in the Hartford Courant reads, “GOP Leaders Call for Vote Soon on Controversial UConn Contract.”  The Courant reports;

Len Fasano and House Republican leader Themis Klarides are calling for the full legislature to vote on a controversial contract for nearly 2,000 non-teaching employees at the University of Connecticut.

The contract will automatically go into effect if the legislature takes no action by March 9. But Fasano, other Republicans, and some Democrats say that a vote is needed on the multi-million-dollar contract to set the tone for future union awards. The contract calls for a 3 percent raise in the first year and then 4.5 percent increases for four consecutive years – including an increase in the workweek from 35 hours to 40 hours.

Last week, the CT Mirror article entitled,  Malloy: UConn pay raises don’t reflect new economic reality, explained that Governor Dannel Malloy was critical of the new state employee contract with non-teaching professional staff at the University of Connecticut claiming that it was out of step with current economic conditions.

Speaking at press conference, Malloy said;

“That contract does not fully represent the new economic reality, and I have some concerns about it, but the legislature is in charge on this one.  I think there is an economic reality that people are having a hard time adjusting to.”

[…]

The pending contract for the 1,839 members of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association provides for annual raises ranging from 3 to 4.5 percent over the next five years.

[…]

“I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it. I think I am going pretty far by saying that if it’s approved, if it becomes the contract, it will be a contract made in this year that will make all other contracts much more difficult to enter into, or to negotiate. It has implications… It’s going to make the legislature’s job a lot harder if they intend to balance the budget.”

Wait, What? 

Malloy said, “The legislature is in charge on this one.” 

And added, “I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it.”

Is Governor Malloy that naïve or does he really think we are that stupid?

As noted, according to Connecticut State Law, the governor serves as the President of the UConn Board of Trustees.

Malloy appointed 12 of the 21 regular members of the UConn Board AND his Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Education and Commissioner of Economic and Community Development are all members of the UConn Board due to the positions they hold in the Malloy administration.

Malloy also appoints a personal representative to the board to attend in his absence.

In the parlance of politics, the governor control the votes.

The truth is that all of Governor Malloy’s appointees to the UConn Board voted in favor of the proposed state employee contract including Board Chairman Larry McHugh, former Speaker of the House Tom Ritter and West Hartford Deputy Mayor Shari Cantor.

To even suggest that he had no role in the decision to approve the contract can only mean that he intentionally overlooked the important role he plays on the UConn Board of Trustees or he has decided to lie to the voters of Connecticut.

Meanwhile, the debate continues about whether the State Senate and State House of Representatives will hold a vote on the contract.  According to the latest Courant story,

The House Democrats talked about the UConn contract during their closed-door caucus last week at the Jackson Laboratory in Farmington, but no final decisions have been announced on whether there will be a vote by the full legislature.

[…]

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey of Hamden, who will play a key role in whether there is a formal vote, is concerned about the price of the contract for the UConn Professional Employees Association, known as UCPEA.

“Everyone understands the overall budget challenges we face, and I heard from legislators, both on the committee and not, who expressed understandable concerns, which I share, over the price tag of this contract,” Sharkey said.  “Through no fault of UCPEA, it is apparent that UConn negotiated this without consideration of the economic reality of the state, and their CFO couldn’t say how they are going to pay for it. The truth is it has to either come from taxpayers, more tuition hikes, or layoffs, and that concerns me greatly.”

A longtime political insider said the UConn contract is probably the most important union vote, politically, at the Capitol in the past 10 years.

Republicans say the legislature’s budget-writing committee missed a chance last week to set the fiscal tone by failing to block the contract for professional employees. House members on the committee voted in favor of the contract, which some legislators described as unaffordable and others said should be approved because it was bargained in good faith and approved by the university.

While the House members approved the contract, the Senate members battled to a 6-6 tie as they debated over whether the full legislature should approve the contract.

Sen. Beth Bye, a West Hartford Democrat who co-chairs the committee, voted in favor of the deal because she said that turning it down could eventually cost the state even more money.

[…]

Sen. John Kissel, a longtime lawmaker from Enfield who voted against the contract, said in an interview that the contract could eventually boomerrang on the employees.

“They’re setting themselves up for layoffs,” Kissel told Capitol Watch.  “I think it sets a bad standard because we have 15 others coming up. The other unions would look to that and say there’s precedent.”

Setting aside the arguments for and against this particular contract, the most amazing news of all is Malloy’s attempt to revise the reality surrounding his role in the contract and the fact that legislators are apparently going to allow him to get away with the charade.